Read Zigeunerkind: de vlucht van een Roma-jongen uit een geheime wereld by Mikey Walsh Barbara Luijken Online


Autobiografische relaas van een homoseksuele zigeunerjongen over de eerste vijftien jaar van zijn leven in het gesloten Roma-milieu van zijn ouders en zijn vlucht daar uit....

Title : Zigeunerkind: de vlucht van een Roma-jongen uit een geheime wereld
Author :
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ISBN : 9789020995862
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 262 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Zigeunerkind: de vlucht van een Roma-jongen uit een geheime wereld Reviews

  • Petra X
    2019-02-18 12:49

    The kid in this book is a gypsy. His life revolves around organised violence, he has to learn bare-knuckle fighting and to witness it and to regularly experience it. Life is fighting, drinking, getting money (not always legitimately) and staying away from his father. Life gets worse, he's gay... He leaves. He's literate, his saving grace.Warwick said in the comments on his review of The Fringe Dwellers about attitudes towards the aborigines of Australia: "[I]t seems a bit like that to me too, it's kind of like Europeans with Roma Gipsies." And it made me think.I grew up with gypsies, went to school with them and my mother had them in to magic the moles from the garden (it worked). we had moles spoiling the lawn and they came and did their stuff and the moles went next door. It was quite gratifying for my superstitious mother, perhaps less so for the neighbours. But what they could say, you can't openly believe in magic? But most of our interactions with gypsies weren't good. They begged, took their kids out of school, messed-up the fields they took over and left the official sites a dump. They did jobs like paving drives, but often not well. They sold 'lucky' heather and threatened you, even little children like me, with curses if you didn't buy. They were very intrusive and grasping. That's all we saw of them. We didn't see a good side and that's what I think is responsible for a lot of the racism, although I'm not sure it is quite that. I'm not saying that there isn't a good side to the gypsies and that those public interactions define them as people. But that is what they choose to let people see, the rest of their lives are hidden from us and I can't see that changing as they are a very secretive people. At the moment their profile is perhaps even lower than usual with all the statistics about the Romanian gypsies major involvement in organised crime in London, the various trials for them keeping vulnerable men as slaves and of course, those tv series on the huge gypsy weddings where the daughters are married off amid much finery into a life, according to this book, of continual drudgery and submissiveness to their menfolk.But they live well. Nice caravans and cars and spend a fortune on their daughters' weddings. Where do they get the money? The book and the tv shows have made it plain they pay no tax. They themselves make no bones about their sexism and utter contempt towards 'gorgios' (non-gypsies), so they are racist too. If a people only let you see the anti-social side of them, then that is how they will be judged. And this book really concentrates on the negative aspects of gypsy life as experienced by the author. Of course, it could be he was just very bitter as he never fitted in and couldn't see the positive side that keeps people who could easily move into the general population if they chose to, but they don't so they must be having a really positive experience. But they don't choose to make that public.If I slept from dusk until dawn and people told me about the beautiful moon at night and my experience was only that pale white shadow that occasionally appears in the day-time sky would I believe in it or would I think that what I saw was what there was? Racism towards gypsies is undeniable, but I think that the solution lies in their hands. Since the racism has a pretty negligible impact on their lives - they live as they please according to this book - they don't really care about it enough to try and change the general perception of them. So be it._____Original non-review(view spoiler)[March 14, 2013. I wrote a review of this book when I read it in 2012. There followed a long discussion in which at least one point was that the gypsies did not enslave people for work (and sometimes to take their benefits) and that was sheer bias against them. I remembered that when I read this article today, and went to go back to the review to add the link. But the book and the review and the discussion are all missing from My Books. I have no idea how or why and am very unhappy about it, but what to do? I wrote a Feedback comment and it was suggested I might have accidentally deleted the book myself. I can't see how, but I suppose it is a possibility. I wonder if anyone remembers the discussion? Or maybe I'm off with the fairies and imagined it.I like writing reviews but what I like most of all is when a review engenders a really good discussion. To me that is the best thing of all about GR, discussing books with friends. (view spoiler)[Everyone is a friend when talking about books. I don't mean 'friends list' (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  • Nicola
    2019-03-05 09:57

    I thought the whole point of Misery Memoirs was that they all look the same. Same black-and-white image of a crying child; same kiddyish cursive font; same plaintive title. Dearth of creativity among publishers aside, at least the reader knows what they’re in for.When I picked up Gypsy Boy, with its no-nonsense title in block lettering and cheery cover image of a grinning boy, I did not know what I was in for. Gypsy Boy is, in fact, the ultimate Mis-Mem. Ostensibly a colourful memoir about growing up as a Romany Gypsy, it rapidly devolves into All Abuse, All the Time. There’s emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse. SO MUCH ABUSE.I was expecting to be offered a thought-provoking glimpse into an oft-misunderstood way of life. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Mikey Walsh was pandering to the average Daily Mail reader’s prejudices. Literally every Gypsy mentioned in the book is ignorant, violent and unpleasant. At the very end, Walsh tries to shift the blame by saying that it’s Irish Travellers who are the thugs (nice one; not at all racist) and Romany Gypsies are peaceful folk… all except the violent, thieving psychos he’s spent 200 pages describing, I guess.So, yes, if you’re looking to confirm your own baseless prejudices about Gypsies and you looooove to read about child abuse, this is the book for you!

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2019-03-12 12:13

    Gypsy Boy is a riveting portrait of a child growing up traveling and staying isolated within his Romany family. But he wants more for his life, a taste of freedom and individuality. Can he have both freedom and family, or will he have to trade one for the other?

  • Leonie
    2019-03-13 11:05

    I ordered this book online the day after hearing the author interviewed on the Choices programme on BBC Radio 4. I don't recall ever having heard such honest and heartfelt and unapolagetic emotion from a man before. I have always been fascinated with Gypsies and their way of life/culture so I hope to learn a little more from this man's story. It didn't take me long to read this harrowing tale of survival. I was shocked at just exactly how violent the life of a young gypsy man could be and how unrewarding that of a gypsy girl might end up. It's safe to say I had romanticised the whole culture a lot more than I'd thought. It didn't give me the spotlight on gypsy culture that I was looking for but it did give me an insight into one gay mans struggle to carve out a life for himself amid violence, sexual abuse and a culture so thoroughly opposed to homosexuality that they'd rather him dead than gay. There were some happy moments and Mikey himself is a triumph but it's not an easy read.

  • Seth
    2019-03-19 12:13

    I don't know what kind of crack gadje are smoking when they say this book breaks stereotypes, but it must be a pretty powerful kind because this book does nothing more than take stereotypes and pound them repeatedly into the reader's head. It uses words like "all, most, never, always" over and over, and wants the reader to know that Rroma (and not just his stupid should-be blakbolime family) steal, scam, physically abuse, oppress and more. And then has the audacity to bash the Irish Travelers and put it all on them, when the characters described are pretty much of the exact same cut as the people who "give gypsies a bad name" (the whole book is a catalog of being beaten and raped when not committing crimes). What's more is that we know the author is using a pseudonym, yet in the book has a story about how he earned his name that's not even real. A good chunk of the beginning of the book covers up to age 5 with not only extreme detail, but with colorful characters and crazy situations. Who the hell remembers all that before and during the age of 5??? The book reads too much like sensationalist fiction, and given the anonymous nature of the author, and his MAKING A SEQUEL (gee I wonder why), it most likely is fiction as far as I'm concerned. The time was ripe in the UK for making money off the success of a TV show that stuffs Rroma into a tight box, and also throwing in the LGBT element (full of cliches like a singing mother, Wizard of Oz and more) into it that everyone loves. It does nothing more than cater to the gadje hunger for books that throw historically oppressed, downtrodden, mistrusted people under the bus. It's no different from the ex-Muslim or ex-Satmar books that get eaten up with delight because they feed into the culture bias against traditionalist people, who are percieved as stupid, barbaric, simplistic, compulsive liars, and oppressive. Where are the books about leaving gadje society with all its fornicating, adultery, abuse, criminality, lack of integrity, drug and alcohol abuse and more? The only positive quality to this book is that it's an easy read--it's well written. Other than that the book is an example as to why some Rroma don't say they are Rroma. It only promotes the MODERN stereotypes rather than saying, "Hey, this was my horrible experience but it DOESN'T reflect every single person of my race."

  • Sequelguerrier
    2019-02-19 14:00

    Someone else called this book relentlessly violent and felt the author was using the violence to pander to the prejudice of 'Daily Mail' readers. She is right in one point, the violence and abuse met by a boy of six, eight, twelve... is horrifying in its relentlessness . However, in her rejection she misses just about every other point this book has to make and why people like Stephen Fry think this is a very touching and important piece of auto-biography. For one thing, it is one of the very few books who talk about the Gypsy (English Roma) way of life from the inside. The world it describes is so far from the smug, educated, middle class reviewer (and thus unbelievable) that it courts rejection. It's not easy to accept this parallel world. Because all of our settler culture is built on 'knowing' our rules are the right ones and those of the 'nomads' are wrong and dangerous. Walsh's voice is amazingly strong just because he writes so much from the inside. He is well aware of what much of what he describes looks like for the Gorgia (non Gypsy) outsider. But he writes with such honesty, candour and so little resentment that any thought of tear jerking or even seeking revenge through this book are quickly dispelled. And he is certainly not peddling misery to make a killing. It seems to me, Walsh manages to recapture the thinking of the child he was with less distortion through the mirror of adulthood than any biography I have recently read. This is in a way the most horrifying aspect of the book and the most up-lifting one: A boy suffers unspeakably at the hand of all those closest to him and it finally drives him to flee his family and community. Walsh shows how a child does come to believe that this suffering is what he deserves because he doesn't fulfil family expectations. Little Mikey has no other measure to measure himself and his family against than that of the community he is born into. Thus, what happens to him, may make him unhappy but it's what he expects. It's 'normal'. And so, despite it all, the man remembers a childhood of exiting adventures with friends and of childish delight at adult weirdness as well as of beatings and rape. Walsh writes after having fled and could easily have fallen into settling accounts. He doesn't, because he avoids judging with the eyes of a non-Gypsy. Because his voice remains non-judgemental, he succeeds in giving an incredibly rich picture of a parallel world. A world that, because it is so different from that of the average 'settled' 21st Century European, will no doubt lead some to find their prejudice confirmed or at least their capacity to understand if not forgive severely tested. If you can jump over your Gorgia shadow and keep your mind open to the strange (and at times horrifying but also mysterious) world that still exists in parallel with ours, a world where 'our' rules do not apply, this is a book that will mark you and in Mikey Walsh you fill find a protagonist you would like to know as a man. I did and I'm ploughing straight into the second volume - Gypsy Boy on the Run.

  • Redfox5
    2019-02-23 17:17

    A sad tale of a young boy who struggles to fit into his own culture.As a Gypsy Mikey is expected to be able to fight at a young age, when he fails to do this, he is beaten by his dad pretty much everyday. He then has to watch his mum get beaten when she tried to intervene. He is raped by his uncle repeatedly growing up. All in all he has a awful childhood. When he finally becomes a teenager, he becomes more alienated in the Gypsy community when he discovers he is gay.Any child abuse story you read is harrowing but the fact that all this was going on and the whole community/camp sites turned a blind eye is terrible. This is the problem with secretive communities, you don't know what's happening inside until someone speaks out.I'm just glad this story has a happy ending and that he finally gets out!

  • Sharon
    2019-03-05 13:59

    I jumped at the opportunity to review "Mikey Walsh's" (the author uses a pseudonym) book as I am researching the Romany culture for a work of my own. There are few memoirs about the Romany Gypsies, and this is a first-hand look at their life in modern times.Mikey starts his tale with his wedding day, looking back on his life up until that moment. He recounts his father's bullying ways as he wants to make his son into a great bare-knuckle boxer like so many of the other men in the family. He recounts all of the abuse he receives at the hands of various uncles (all adults are referred to as aunt and uncle as a sign of respect, so he does not always know whether or not he is truly related). Education is not respect and, because the Romany Gypsies move so frequently, it is sporadic in any case. Boys are considered men at age 12 and expected to go to work. Few in Mikey's circle are literate.The story reveals the strict moral codes to which women are held (divorced women are never spoken to again, an unmarried woman caught along with a man must either marry him or be shunned, etc.). The men are held to no such codes -- with the exception that one must never be gay. And herein lies Mikey's problem, for he comes to realize that is the case with himself fairly early on. The remainder of the book talks about the problems he encounters dealing with his sexual orientation.Honestly, this is a book I found hard to put down for a variety of reasons. Mikey's story is a poignant one, but it is ultimately a tale of triumph. I found the look inside the Romany culture to be enlightening and Mikey's voice as an author quite entertaining. I look forward to reading more by this author.(Review based on uncorrected advance proof.)

  • I. Merey
    2019-03-09 12:50

    Mikey Walsh is a Gypsy boy born to a father who wants a fearsome bare-knuckle boxer as his first-born son. Mikey is sensitive, he's love-starved, he's eager-to-please, but he is not a fighter. He spends the first fifteen years of his life getting regular and horrific beatings, his father's attempts to toughen him up. He watches his mother regularly get beaten to a pulp--he is sexually abused by his uncle--and further along, he discovers he's gay, which is hard enough in any world, but in the hypermacho Gypsy world, is tantamount to suicide.A few years of my life were spent growing up in Hungary, where the largest minority is Gypsy. There is a strong and open animosity towards the Gypsy population, generally considered to be lazy, anti-establishment, unable to work properly, and unwilling to educate themselves.Hah, perhaps this would not be the best book to convince people otherwise--then again, Gypsy people don't WANT to fit in and they wish to send a big fuck you to anyone who suggests that they should. Mikey describes in clear language the world of beatings, lack of education, fun, and swindling; and the horrible realization the older he got that he had to get out of it, or emotionally die.What really struck me was how terribly appreciative the narrator was to any kindness given to him by adults and peers unaware of the full horror of his situation, literally like parched earth will soak up a little spill of water :/ I cheered for him until the end.

  • Heather
    2019-03-07 14:54

    I’ve long been fascinated with the Roma (or Gypsies, as Walsh more commonly refers to them), and was extremely excited to read this book --the only other Roma book I’ve read is Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing: the Gypsies and Their Journey, which focused largely on the Roma in Eastern Europe. Walsh, by contrast, grew up in England – and, unlike the grinding poverty throughout Fonseca’s book, Wash insists that Gypsies are not generally poor. Reading this book, though, I thought of it less and less as a book about Gypsies and their culture than as a book about the heartbreaking childhood of one man. I’ve never known anyone who is Roma, but aspects of the Roma in his book reminded me of people I knew growing up in south Brooklyn: recovering (and not) drug addicts and alcoholics, scrappy kids, tough-as-nails people tenaciously proud of their background – even if they don’t quite have all the facts straight. (For example: while Granny Ivy talks about the Roma building the pyramids in Egypt, most people now believe the Roma originated in India). So to me, Walsh’s story felt less like a view into the Other – the Roma community – than a reflection of familiar aspects from other places, peoples, and cultures around the world.His story is one of the saddest I’ve read since I reading a string of holocaust books last year. It’s not just sad – it’s also redemptive, as he is able to reconnect with his family after leaving the community – but the sheer volume of physical, verbal, mental, and sexual abuse he endures is almost too much to take, even as a reader. I can’t imagine what it was like to experience it first-hand.While I know almost nothing about the Irish Travellers, his description of them is fairly brutal and, I think, betrays a remaining prejudice on his part. While many think that Gypsies are a dirty, violent, thieving, black-magic-dealing group looking to scheme their way through life, Walsh insists it isn’t true – but it is true of the Irish Travellers. Prejudices die hard, but one would think Walsh would think twice about such generalizations.If you’re looking for a book on the Roma, I’d wholeheartedly recommend Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing, which provides both a historical overview of the Roma and a more personal view of the families that she lives with and gets to know. If you’re looking for a memoir, I’m not sure I’d recommend this one. I feel for the author’s abuses, and think it’s amazing how he remade his life after leaving the Roma community, but I left this book feeling sad rather than satisfied.

  • Kim
    2019-02-27 13:51

    I want to give this book 3 1/2 stars, really, but I guess it tends slightly to the lower side of that.Mikey Walsh has an amazing story to tell of his childhood among an English Roma family. His story is full of colorful characters, adventures, and horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. It was fascinating to me to read an insider's view of a lifestyle so very different from my own. I very much enjoyed reading the book.But there were also some serious flaws. I think the worst of these is that Walsh simply tries to do too much. There's too much story here for this length of a book. As a result, much of the narrative seems rushed (especially the last two chapters) and most of the characters--even Walsh's closest family members--are fairly two-dimensional. A second flaw is that some of what he says simply seems too incredible to be true. Now, it's possible that the entire story is absolutely accurate, or at least as accurate as someone's childhood memories can be. But I did find one small factual error (he refers to the Cambridge Fair as happening in July, when in fact it happens in June; it's a Midsummer Fair) and I wonder if there are more. And finally, Walsh several times repeats his negative views about the Irish Travellers. I think it's fine to discuss the antipathy between the Romani and the Irish Travellers, but blaming Gypsies' bad rap solely on the Irish seemed unneccessary and far-fetched.So, overall a fascinating story, but I wich he would have stretched it out over two or three volumes instead.

  • Gábor
    2019-03-12 13:08

    This is a disturbing book. The author offers a very uncomplimentary view into the life of Gypsy families. Constant violence, beating of spouses and children. Daily drunkenness of males, with beating up each other outside the home too. Hopefully just as an exception, the author was being regularly raped by one of his uncles. Children are indoctrinated regularly to hate 'Gorgias' (non-Gypsies), and sent to school only for a few years (or not at all) to avoid tainting them(?). Males earn their income by extorting (elderly) homeowners, while the only outside the house "work" women are allowed to participate in is shoplifting. Strangely, they are earning quite well, driving late model cars and women clean their mobile homes in Gucci dresses and Jimmy Choo shoes. With all their unlove of outsiders, Gypsies seem all too happy to take good advantage of free medical care offered in Britain for child birth and advanced surgeries. Certainly the whole setup doesn't sound like a wonderful place for any child (or even for an adult), and not in particular for somebody who is homosexual (read different ...).In addition, British society is taking no action to stop criminal behaviour described. While it is understood that some of this activity (like beating spouses and children) happens at home and might be harder to prosecute, but there are surely laws on the books punishing extortion, stealing, rape and also non-schooling of children. No wonder this book caused a stir in Great Britain.

  • Jansen
    2019-02-21 14:59

    I've had a fascination with gypsy culture for years, especially because my mother believes we may be descended from them on her side. (She has a romantic view of our family tree.) Finding anything to read about gypsies has been tough, though. Until now. Mikey Walsh takes us into his startlingly violent and tradition-driven life. From his earliest memories of realizing he wasn't going to be the prize fighter his father envisioned to his first gay love with a gorgia (non-gypsy) man and all the heartache it brought to him. The book can be very hard to read at times because of the seemingly non-stop violence Mikey endures and is required to inflict to defend his honor. I had to stop reading at times and go back to it after a break. Some of his childhood memories are actually quite nice, such as when he and his sister dress up to play "Aunt Sadly" or how his Skeletor figure is his constant companion. I've heard Mikey Walsh has written a sequel, which I hope to pick up soon. Unfortunately, you won't find much further reading on Mikey Walsh himself and don't expect any book tours any time soon--Mikey Walsh is a pseudonym and all the names of the characters have been changed to protect his identity.

  • Therese
    2019-03-13 15:07

    Wow! I suppose this book could easily just be looped in with the many horrifying child-abuse stories that run rampant off grocery store shelves, but this one is particularly interesting as it's about a culture that I knew nothing of, but always wanted to. It's true there are many bits of this book that kept me up at night, but it's also a book that was impossible to put down and had me racing onto the next chapter to see what would happen next to Mikey. A word to the sensitive in disposition, this book deals with some pretty graphic, awful stuff, so be warned!

  • Tracey
    2019-03-16 16:54

    I thought this book was brilliantly written and very gripping.Then I found out it's possibly fiction, and we have all been fooled.Read this:'s the blog of one of Mikey's ex-boyfriends, one who would be portrayed in a negative light in the sequel, "Gypsy Boy on the Run." He points out the falsehoods in both books. In particular, look at part 7.Now, I have to add the disclaimer that I don't know for sure what the real truth is, and I don't know either the author or the ex-boyfriend, but I am inclined to believe the latter's version of the story. He's putting his own [real] name on the line by writing this exposee, and a lot of things make sense when you look at his photos - like, how can a man who was constantly beaten to a pulp by his father have such a perfect face? How could a man with so little education, who could barely read or write as a teenager, catch up so quickly and write so well? How come "Mikey Walsh"'s Twitter is written in such a different voice from the book? I think we have all been duped.It's a shame, really. Like James Frey, the writer is clearly very talented, and I would have had no problem with this book if only it had been labelled FICTION rather than memoir. But that wouldn't sell.If what the ex-boyfriend is writing is true - and, again, I am inclined to believe it is, because he has everything to lose if he is sued, and nothing to gain financially because you can't say you've been defamed when the book changes your name and personal details - then I feel Walsh has done a horrible disservice to Romany people. Everybody knows the stereotype of the "Gypsy" as out to deceive people. TV shows like "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" make it worse. Well, Walsh has just assured that stereotype will be cemented in many people's minds. More gullible non-Gypsies lapping it up in the form of a misery memoir. Even worse, if he has not actually suffered such horrific physical and sexual abuse (and again, maybe he did, maybe he didn't, I don't know), then it's all the more likely that somebody who actually HAS gone through such things will not be believed in the future. Now every Gypsy's account of life in this community will be met with doubt.Remember, publishers are out to sell books, and a good story sells. This is a good story. It held me from the first page to the last. But it's probably a work of fiction, and I think readers deserve to know David V. Barron's side of the story so that they can decide for themselves. As for me, I now believe it is fiction, and I feel like a fool. I have been duped, and I consider myself somebody who doesn't fall for those things so easily. I convinced myself to be open-minded and allow myself to believe that somebody who was functionally illiterate through adolescence could indeed learn to write such beautiful prose and tell such an eloquent story. I didn't want to be THAT person who thinks a story of horrific abuse is all made up, who doesn't believe the victim. Turns out I should have trusted my gut. It made sense that the author would use a pseudonym and change the names and details of characters because he's talking about a tightly knit community and needs to protect the people he writes about...but it also makes sense that he would do this to prevent people from doing the proper fact-checking and figuring out that what he wrote wasn't true. After all, you can't sue somebody for libel or defamation if they've changed your name and identifying details in the book! Very convenient, that.Memoirs don't have to be 100% accurate reflections of the truth, but I believe Walsh took a hell of a lot of liberties. I could be wrong, but right now I believe David Barron. Read the book, read the blog, then make up your mind.

  • Sabrina Rutter
    2019-03-02 16:00

    Mikey's birth was his father's dream come true! A son to carry on the family legacy of tough bare nuckle fighting Romany gypsy males. From day one his father began the task of preparing Mikey for the life of a fighter by placing a gold necklace with gold boxing gloves around his new born son's neck. Mikey however didn't match his tough, sadistic father's ideals, and soon his young life was one torment after another.As if suffering from daily beatings from his father, and run of the mill bullies wasn't enough to make young Mikey's life pure misery his uncle Joseph began his own torturous campaign against him. For years Mikey was left with no choice but to suffer in silence. This abuse however wasn't his only secret.Mikey was still a young teenager when he fell in love. This was not the kind of love that would be accepted in his gypsy culture, and for this love he would finally pay the ultimate price of being an outcast to the world he knew, and loved (minus the violence). Mikey was gay, and that is not at all tolerated in the Romany gypsy culture.I loved this book, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the film version! I didn't know what to expect reading a book from the male gypsy perspective. I thought I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I do from a females point of view, but I'm happy to say I worried for nothing as it's a definite favorite! I can't wait to get my hands on his other book!

  • Susan Campbell
    2019-02-21 09:54

    I found the physical and sexual abuse rather shocking to read. The children trapped inside such a horrible community. I was pleased he got away, he was one of the lucky ones!

  • Lynn
    2019-02-23 12:11

    This is a boy's gritty memoir of growing up as a Romany gypsy. His life is full of scam, violence, abuse, lack of education, and very little love. Mikey did not fit into the typical macho he-man culture that settles most things with a bare-knuckle fight. His father beat him unmercifully but eventually, he got out, got an education, made a life for himself, fell in loved and married. Sadly, most of his sibs and friends who remained in the life did not fare as well. The writing although not fantastic is good and very suspenseful. An interesting look at an unusual culture which I have always found intriguing.

  • Hannah Polley
    2019-03-16 16:54

    This book falls into the genre of tragic life stories and if you like that genre, it is a very good book. It is a true story told from the author's perspective of growing up in a gypsy community. A lot of what happens to Mikey is heartbreaking and I was so happy when he escaped and very glad that he got a happy ending. A lot of the practices described in the book are frightening and I cannot agree with the author when he still tries to defend the sexist, violent and homophobic community that he has described.

  • Tony
    2019-02-25 13:11

    My Grade = 88% - BI found a stack of British magazines on the Arts, Culture, Fashion scenes at a thrift shop recently, and they introduced me to quite a few books and movies that I would otherwise not have come across, plus a large number of London West End plays that I had seen.The book that most interested me was Gypsy Boy on the Run by Mikey Walsh (a name taken from a character in Goonies). He had to keep his name secret, as he was under a death threat from his father and other members of his gypsy "tribe."I found THIS book, Gypsy Boy, at a local resale book shop and thought it was the one I wanted, but discovered it was a previous book by the same author.Anyway, Gypsy Boy is the story of the early life (4 - 15 years) of a gay Romany Gypsy boy living in the area of Reading in the Berkshire County of England. Somewhere toward the latter of these years the character discovers that he is gay, though the reader already knows this from the blurbs on the book jacket.Mikey is the grandson of Romany royalty and the son of a famous gypsy bare-knuckles boxer who wishes to bring up his first son to be a great boxer also. Unfortunately, Mikey is not predisposed to boxing - or any athletic ability.His father puts in boxing school where is beaten to a pulp twice each session - once by a much bigger and older boxer and then, upon losing, by his father. This goes on through his entire life until the age of 15, when he runs away from home. The only male relative who shows Mikey any consideration is Joseph, his father's younger, and much fatter, brother. The only reason Joseph does this is so that Mikey is left in his care one day each week - a day in which Joseph brutally and repeatedly rapes Mikey. As Mikey says, "he put his sex organ in every orifice of my body." When Mikey attempts to tell his father about Joseph, his father threatens to kill Mikey if he continues.All in all, this is the story of a boy living the Romany Gypsy life (with almost no schooling). There comes a time (when he is 15) that he makes friends with a 26 yr old gay bartender who befriends him. Gypsy boys are considered adults at 12, a time when they are permitted by their parents to drive, drink, and smoke. Mikey claims to be 19, as 18 is the legal drinking age in England. Obviously, he must look much older than his real age.There is a chapter or two at the end called "Now" that he narrates on the day, five years later, that he is getting married to a man. In this chapter he summarizes what has happened to him in the previous five years.I have already started the next book, Gypsy Boy on the Run, and am into it a few chapters already, but think, unfortunately, that is merely a longer version of the chapter called "Now," as there is nothing new in it so far.

  • Martin Lewis
    2019-03-19 09:04

    Overall, my thought on this book were "generally favourable" although it is a bit odd, and contains some inconsistencies which have been pointed out by some reviewers already. The first thing to strike me was the writing style, which is very straightforward and descriptive. At first this seems disappointing but it soon becomes clear that literary style and flair play second fiddle to the story itself, and actually the blunt descriptions of some of the abuses Mikey was subjected to (the sexual abuse especially) leap off the page in their utter repugnancy.I found that to have any real empathy for Mikey, the book had to be taken as a tale of abuse and of a boy who realises he's gay attempting to find acceptance and escape a violent abusive father (this may be why Stephen Fry's comments ended up on the front cover), because the Romany gypsies - which includes Mikey - are shown in a very poor light indeed, and it's here that inconsistencies start to show.For instance, towards the end of the book Mikey places all of the blame for gypsy's bad image on the Irish travellers (as opposed to the Romany gypsies), explaining how they are needlessly violent, and make a mess wherever they go. This is hard to agree with, as for the book's entirety we have been exposed to Mikey's life as a Romany gypsy, and they've been shown to be violent, dishonest, drunken, materialistic, homophobic, money-obssessed, misogynistic, thieving, narrow-minded and very poorly educated, despising everyone different to them for seemingly no real reason. They follow a set of old, pointless traditions with seemingly no real basis to them (religious or otherwise). There is also a period of time in which a 'Gorgia' bungalow serves as his family's place of residence, where Mikey's father proceeds to irritate all the neighbours by running his scrap metal business from the front garden. However, despite all this, and despite the rules repressing his (and his uncle's, to dangerous consequences) homosexuality, Mikey is still proud to be a gypsy, as he proclaims several times, and blames Irish travellers.However, despite this, the outcome of the book was very satisfying, and the changes Mikey makes to his life will have you cheering him on.

  • Warren Rochelle
    2019-03-11 12:47

    I found this book this summer when I was in London. It was my last day and I found myself browsing in a bookstore--Waterstone's, I think--on Piccadilly, down the street from the tube station. I needed a book to read on the plane home. Gypsy Boy looked liked it might make a 7-8 hour flight.I don't know a lot about Gypsies (and I thought Roma was the now-preferred term, but Walsh uses Gypsy throughout the memoir), other than what I have picked up via popular culture. As I write this, I am remembering a scene from the Andy Griffith Show, of all things, when Gypsies passed through Mayberry and had convinced the locals that they could predict the weather (done by having a radio that picked up long-range forecasts--why this was not available to Mayberry folk remains a mystery). These Gypsies were the stereotype: hoop ear rings, olive skin, colorful clothes, bandannas, and tambourines and they sang a song about the Gypsies being wild and free every time any outsider showed up.So much for the mythology of popular culture and stereotypes. Mikey Walsh was born into a Romany Gypsy family in England and grew up in an insular, closeted world that had little connection to the greater non-Gypsy or Gorgia community. Rather the caravan was Mikey's world--and this world, as he tells it in this frank and sometimes shocking memoir, has a "vibrant and loyal culture," and yet it is a culture that hides abuse, taught him how to commit fraud, and it is a culture that apparently has no place at all for a gay boy.Mikey Walsh obviously survived and escaped and today has a partner to whom he is married. His uncle, who sexually abused him for years as a child, was finally caught. Mikey's father bullied his family for years--which only ended when a younger brother finally stood up to the man. Mikey had been his father's punching bag. Mikey learned how to read, got the education he missed growing up and he is now bearing witness, even though as he says, "You can take the boy away from the Gypsies, but you can't take the Gypsy out of the boy."A powerful book.

  • Neil Mach
    2019-02-23 16:52

     I have Roma blood running in my family and through my veins, so thought I should read this. It is an anguished story and part of it [though nothing so bad, I'm pleased to say, ever happened to me] resonated with my experiences in a personal and emotional way. Certainly, the requirement to be physically strong and and punchy was something I experienced as a lad. Also my father hated the I idea that I might grow up into a “poof” [his words.]This story is often humourless and gloomy ... and reminded me a lot of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes Angela's Ashes. Except that McCourt's writing is more entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny. I wish this had been the same. But it's far more grim.Probably this seems stronger and less forgiving than Angela's Ashes because of the inbuilt repression and persistent nagging pain of flagrant homophobia that seems present in every agonized little recollection.True or not [and to be fair, this biography did ring true to me] it's not a pleasant journey that we take with Mikey ... who goes from one unpleasant disaster to the next in a brutal semi-existence that he can never seem to escape fromLike I say, reminiscent of Angela's Ashes but with less death. And little or no lightness.Maybe I'll try Caravans and Wedding Bands by Eva Petulengro next. Caravans and wedding bands

  • martin
    2019-02-25 13:58

    I enjoyed reading this book......once I ignored the publisher's blurb and the "non-fiction" tag. It may well be based on a true story but it's had a Hollywood style treatment so the emphasis is really now on "story" rather than "true"! Even allowing for the tinted spectacles of any autobiography, this is just a bit too imaginative to be convincing.The characters can be fun .. and funny in their often cheerful scofflaw ways. Aunt Minnie's periodic shopping trips in her ankle length coat are my favourite but the easy going way that petty criminality is accepted as normal is often oddly refreshing and amusing. Mother's cooking and decorating attempts are also worth a few chuckles. Mikey's story of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, coupled with his realisation that he is gay, makes a strong theme but eventually a rather monotonous one and (as is understandable for the experiences of a child) the father and uncle are very two-dimensional. It's very hard to see them as conditioned by the traditions and values of their Romany upbringing, mainly because the Romany flavour in the story is so weak. This is not a book for those wanting to understand the culture and behaviour of Gypsies (Romany or Traveller) because there's very little that is unusual or intriguing here. Mikey's family feel like a Dickens invention in London's tough but not entirely dishonourable criminal underbelly rather than proud and misunderstood representatives of a minority subculture. Weaknesses? As others here have pointed out, the prejudice against the Irish Travellers is odd as the only real difference seen here is the Travellers' tendency to use weapons rather than just bare fists. The other flaw in Mikey's story is the end which comes rather too much as a happy ever after, even with all the dire warnings of expulsion and exclusion he repeats so many times.

  • Susan Nadathur
    2019-02-18 15:47

    Mikey Walsh's story is definitely a page-turner. It's intriguing, but at the same time, disturbing. While the back cover text promises access into the secret life of Romany Gypsies, I don’t think we get any truly unique insights into this supposedly secret world but rather a painfully vivid account of family violence at its most gruesome—an unhappy reality that can exist in any family, from any country, any ethnicity. Being raised by a man who is violent and a woman who is powerless is a sad reality for many families. Which makes us definitely empathize with Mikey. As the narrative unfolds, we feel the escalating tension along with him. But after a while, the violence becomes too much. I, like Mikey, grew immune to the verbal and physical abuse and responded as he must have on so many occasions with a tired ‘go ahead, give it to me again. I don’t care anymore.’ It got to the point where I didn’t want to read about any more violent episodes. I got the point. What I was truly interested in reading about was the culture Mikey was forced to flee. We got bits and pieces of life in the Gypsy caravans, but not much more than what we could read in any cultural study or police report. Now that Mikey is free from his horrific past, I would like to see him reflect on his culture in a more analytical fashion, as he has proven more than capable of doing by having written this book. Maybe, this time, he can put a more positive spin on his people. Unfortunately, this book may have the opposite effect of what was intended. Instead of being remembered as a gripping autobiography of a young man who was able to get out of a repressive society, it may prove to continue enforcing the negative stereotypes associated with an enigmatic group of people.

  • Carol
    2019-03-08 09:47

    I liked the idea of learning about the Gypsy-Roma culture firsthand.The fact that Mikey was gay added an interesting twist. What I feel I learned was what a horrible upbringing Mikey had with a physically abusive father, a sexually abusive uncle and an abused mother. He wasn't the "man" his father wanted him to be, was an unsuccessful bare knuckle boxer and didn't live up to the family legacy for which he was continually punished from an early age. He had no resources from which to seek help and just had to put up with his life of continual abuse. The gypsy-Roma family was close knit but his father called Mikey a liar when he accused his uncle of sexual abuse, following by another beating.The few times in his life when Mikey was offered kindness did not last long. His school teacher Mrs. Kerr offered small respite from the horrors of home. But since the Roma-gypsies didn't believe in school it only lasted a short time. Kevin the gorgia(non gypsy) dossa(worker) died in front of Mikey and his friends while they were playing. Another dossa Kenny showed Mikey such great kindness that Mikey mistakenly believed he was in love with him and was met with total rejection when he mentioned this to Kenny. Mikey finally meets another gorgia man Caleb who also is kind to him and helps him escape from his lifestyle at great personal loss to Caleb.I felt that this presentation did little to humanize the Roma-gypsies and did much to reinforce stereotypes. I am sorry that Mikey was raised in such an abusive situation and was glad that he was able to eventually find happiness outside the Roma community and also eventually resume contact with his family.

  • Callie Craighead
    2019-03-14 14:50

    "You can take the boy away from the Gypsies, but you can't take the Gypsy out of the boy."An absolutely flawless book describing the tragic life of a young modern day gypsy. I never knew much about gypsies, but after reading this I am fascinated with the legacy of their culture, and just how deep their roots run.The plot of the main character not fitting in to the gypsy lifestyle that was forced upon him was well played out. It started out not so bad and you thought maybe he could make it (when he was very young) but then he got his first beating.The violence of the father in this book absolutely devastated me. It was so well written, I felt the pain of every beating Mikey got. It also started so young, I was absolutely horrified. But it was realistic and tragic, and it kept me turning the page.Also, I enjoyed the traditions of the gypsy culture. They were fascinating to see just tucked away into the plot line. Like the cussing, and smoking and stealing, all explained and all subconsciously done by the characters in the book. This book earns the 5 star rating. It was sad, tragic, yet at the end I felt whole and that I had learned something not only about gypsies but about having strength in life.

  • Richard
    2019-03-13 13:09

    I really liked the first half of this book a lot, but I felt that it lost focus and became a bit too repetitive. The author's mournful Eeyore tone didn't help the audiobook experience, although his true emotion did show through several times. I never lost sympathy for Mikey as a terribly abused child, but my patience was tested a bit by Mikey Walsh the reader.The ending seemed especially rushed and rather vague.I don't regret reading (or rather listening to) this one - although it has cured me of my romantic fascination with Romany culture. Also worth mentioning that the author's final defense of the Romany culture and vilification of the Irish Travelers seems both hypocritical and not supported by anything at all in the actual book.(Finally, I was a bit confused by the timeline? Everyone goes from being obsessed with Dynasty to having cell phones in a remarkably short period of time. And it seems unlikely that a young man who watches a great deal of TV would be as clueless about the outside world as Walsh seems to have been,)

  • Gail
    2019-02-26 11:11

    I ordered this book without knowing what it was even about. From the beginning I wasn't able to get enough. It gives a dark look into a culture that many don't know anything about. As for what happened to Micky that could happen anywhere. How everything went unnoticed is shocking to me and how no one really attempted to help this young boy for everything his father did to him. But when he thought he finally found love from his uncle to only be betrayed by that uncle was crushing to me. What was worse as he would rather spend time with his uncle then be with his father. I truly hope Mickey was and has been able to find happiness and a life worth living after escaping. Caleb was an unsung hero in many ways and hard to believe someone would endure what he did to save his friend, but in the end it became to much for him to handle and had to walk away. I personally donate most of my books I read, but I will be keeping this one!

  • NiceCuppaTea
    2019-03-13 12:17

    The author obviously had a tortured childhood and adolescence and I hope that writing this book has helped him. I found the book hard to read because the negative portrayal of the gypsy/Roma culture was so one-dimensional that I gained no insight into the complexities that must exist. I felt increasingly uncomfortable in this imbalance - would there be no redeeming features? Well, no - and I was relieved to get to the end. The book is primarily about how the author coped in an abusive family within an abusive community cut off from the outside world. If you read books about abusive childhoods then it has plenty of material for you but I would caution you to look into the veracity of it - if that matters to you - since you will find very different accounts by those portrayed in the book on the web and, at the very least, I suspect some exaggeration.